Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

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Delta Tank
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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Delta Tank » 25 Jun 2019 00:34

To all,

I wrote this on one of those previous open threads, and I have not changed my mind.
From this thread: viewtopic.php?f=56&t=164680&start=15

I wrote this on 10 April 2010:
“Once the decision was made to invade North Africa, General George C. Marshall knew that an invasion of France in 1943 was off the table. So after Torch, we did Husky, the invasion of Sicily. After Sicily, the next logical step was to invade Italy, to knock Italy out of the war, to gain air bases and naval bases, and to try to stretch German military assets. The problem I had with the whole Italian Campaign is that at some point we should of said, okay, enough! We have accomplished our objectives and we are going onto a defensive posture and we are going to stop the bleeding. After all, if you go all the way up the boot it leads . . . nowhere!! Nothing vital can be accomplished that would help end the war land warfare wise.”

Mike

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Sheldrake
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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Sheldrake » 25 Jun 2019 18:12

Kingfish wrote:
23 Jun 2019 22:57
Sheldrake wrote:
23 Jun 2019 21:44
Without an allied landing in Italy there would have been no Italian Armistice.
Which could have been achieved with a minor landing at any point along the Italian coast, perhaps one prearranged during the secret negotiations.
The fifty divisions of coastal defenders would have probably been Italian.
Until the Italian volte-face at which point the Germans would have to step in.
Without an Italian campaign the Germans would have had the use of the C 100,000 Germans who became casualties.
Not if they're stuck defending long stretches of coastline.#
Counter factual arguments cannot "prove" anything. Historically, the Italian armistice was planned with the Italian government in the expectation that the allies would immediately occupy Italy. There were plans to drop the 82nd AB Division into Rome at the same time as the Salerno landings. I find it difficult to think of a scenario where it would make sense for the Italian government to declare an armistice without allied land intervention. (There is one - and that is a total German collapse.)

If you think the Italians would have collapsed if the allies had occupied Sardinia and Corsica without committing troops to mainland Italy please outline the chain of events that leads to this taking place.

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by DrG » 25 Jun 2019 19:26

Just a note regarding the rather off-topic matter of the Italian armistice. A large Allied landing in the Italian peninsula was a conditio sine qua non for the signing of the Armistice of Cassibile of 3 Sept. 1943. Without this operation, no agreement would have been signed, given that it was one of the few but non-negotiable conditions set by the Italian government. To be precise, anyway, Badoglio's envoys asked for a landing on the coast of Lazio, near Rome, not in Campania, but the Allies did not declare openly that it was deemed technically unfeasible (the Regia Marina, instead, had already planned a strike by the battle force in the Tyrrhenian sea in front of Campania, judging that the Allied air cover could not extend farther to the North), causing many misunderstandings on the eve of the Salerno landing.

Returning on topic, I can only say that this post viewtopic.php?p=2209622#p2209622 by Delta Tank summarizes pretty well my own point of view.

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Sheldrake » 25 Jun 2019 20:53

Delta Tank wrote:
25 Jun 2019 00:34
General George C. Marshall knew that an invasion of France in 1943 was off the table. So after Torch, we did Husky, the invasion of Sicily. After Sicily, the next logical step was to invade Italy, to knock Italy out of the war, to gain air bases and naval bases, and to try to stretch German military assets. The problem I had with the whole Italian Campaign is that at some point we should of said, okay, enough! We have accomplished our objectives and we are going onto a defensive posture and we are going to stop the bleeding. After all, if you go all the way up the boot it leads . . . nowhere!! Nothing vital can be accomplished that would help end the war land warfare wise.”
I can understand Marshall's argument. The key question is when was it necessary to pull the plug on Italy? Until D Day in France, the Italian campaign was a serious distraction to the Germans, fixing troops that would otherwise be free to defend Festung Europa. However, it is debatable whether the Allies should have put as much effort into the battles for the Gothic line in the 4th Quarter of 1944. But that is off topic for this thread title.

After D Day the Allies did draw down troops from Italy. In August four divisions of the FEC and three divisions of 3rd US Corps left for Op Dragoon. Over the winter of 1944-45 the two divisions 1st Canadian Corps and the 5th British Infantry Division left for NW Europe. Half the troops left were odds and sods. Black Americans, US Mountain troops, Brazilians and the Italian Legions

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Kingfish » 25 Jun 2019 22:34

Sheldrake wrote:
25 Jun 2019 18:12
I find it difficult to think of a scenario where it would make sense for the Italian government to declare an armistice without allied land intervention.
Then an allied landing can be added in if the strategic gain is worth the effort. My point is it doesn't have to be the only effort, which the Italian campaign essentially became. By committing to a long and costly grind up the Italian peninsula the Allies threw away their advantage in naval superiority while at the same time gave the Germans the assurance needed to commit their own reserves.
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
~Babylonian Proverb

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Jun 2019 09:31

Kingfish wrote:
25 Jun 2019 22:34
Sheldrake wrote:
25 Jun 2019 18:12
I find it difficult to think of a scenario where it would make sense for the Italian government to declare an armistice without allied land intervention.
Then an allied landing can be added in if the strategic gain is worth the effort. My point is it doesn't have to be the only effort, which the Italian campaign essentially became. By committing to a long and costly grind up the Italian peninsula the Allies threw away their advantage in naval superiority while at the same time gave the Germans the assurance needed to commit their own reserves.
See post #48

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Gooner1 » 26 Jun 2019 12:26

Of the 24 divisions dispatched overseas from the US between Operation Husky and Operation Overlord just three went to the Mediterranean.

That above all is the reason for the long grind up the Italian peninsula.

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Delta Tank » 26 Jun 2019 13:48

Gooner1 wrote:
26 Jun 2019 12:26
Of the 24 divisions dispatched overseas from the US between Operation Husky and Operation Overlord just three went to the Mediterranean.

That above all is the reason for the long grind up the Italian peninsula.
So, if we would of sent all or most of those divisions to Italy that would of delayed Operation Overlord to 19?? There is nothing decisive in Italy! Even if you capture the whole country quickly it means nothing. After a certain point, attacking in Italy was just plain stupid.

Mike

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Gooner1 » 26 Jun 2019 14:43

Delta Tank wrote:
26 Jun 2019 13:48
There is nothing decisive in Italy! Even if you capture the whole country quickly it means nothing. After a certain point, attacking in Italy was just plain stupid.
Italy bordered the Reich you know. Plus it had a lot of economic value - estimates are northern Italy alone was worth 15% of enemy GDP.

Not attacking in Italy before Overlord nets the Allies what?

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Delta Tank » 26 Jun 2019 15:03

Gooner1 wrote:
26 Jun 2019 14:43
Delta Tank wrote:
26 Jun 2019 13:48
There is nothing decisive in Italy! Even if you capture the whole country quickly it means nothing. After a certain point, attacking in Italy was just plain stupid.
Italy bordered the Reich you know. Plus it had a lot of economic value - estimates are northern Italy alone was worth 15% of enemy GDP.

Not attacking in Italy before Overlord nets the Allies what?
Gooner1,

Have you ever driven from Germany to Italy or Italy to Germany? A reinforced German Infantry Battalion would be able to stop a Corps!!! Did not say not to attack Italy, go back and read what I wrote.

Mike

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Jun 2019 16:55

Delta Tank wrote:
26 Jun 2019 13:48
Gooner1 wrote:
26 Jun 2019 12:26
Of the 24 divisions dispatched overseas from the US between Operation Husky and Operation Overlord just three went to the Mediterranean.

That above all is the reason for the long grind up the Italian peninsula.
So, if we would of sent all or most of those divisions to Italy that would of delayed Operation Overlord to 19?? There is nothing decisive in Italy! Even if you capture the whole country quickly it means nothing. After a certain point, attacking in Italy was just plain stupid.

Mike
I think you have to step back a bit and look at the big picture, say Jan 1943. when the Joint Combined Chiefs of staff were looking at their options.

The German army of WW2 had around 200 divisions. Although most of the Germans were facing the Russians, some 25 % - fifty divisions were free to fight the western Allies.

The US raised an army of 100 divisions under the victory plan. 25 of those would be needed to support the pacific War, leaving 75 for the war against Germany. The British, commonwealth and allied troops raised by the British had around 40 divisions - of which around ten faced the Japanese, leaving around thirty to support the liberation of Europe. About one third of the British, around ten divisions were deployed in the Mediterranean, as were four US Divisions (1st,9th, 34th and 1st Armd). At this time there was just one US division in the UK - the 29th. and around twenty British.

There was no point deploying an allied army to Western Europe before there were enough US forces in theatre to provide an allied force with good odds of beating the Germans in a sustained battle in France. That meant an invasion force of some 40 divisions, with the capability to bring in a further 40 from the USA as soon as French ports could be used.

The big issue was shipping, and port capacity in the UK. There is a US Army Historic monograph dated 29 May 1946 called "The Problems of troop and cargo flow in preparing the European invasion" which explains this in great detail. Historically some 2,000,000 US troops and 18,000,000 tons of cargo were shipped to the UK and Northern France in the 21 months from between January 1943 and September 1944. This delivered the bulk of the victory army. This wasn't a steady flow, of 90,000 soldier and 900k tons a month, but disproportionately in 1944. During the first half of 1943 the figures were C 40,000 troops and 100k tons cargo (which may have been partially due to Op Husky and partially due to the shortfall in shipping through losses to U boats. The flow in 1944 was around 150k men (though 200k arrived in April. ) and around 1.5 million tons a month. Shipping was also constrained by the port and storage capacity in the UK. By D Day ships were arriving faster than they could be unloaded or stored and some stores were kept afloat - undesirable for many reasons. The allies had neither the ships nor the port capacity to build up US troops any faster.

This was quite a complicated process. Ideally the equipment for each unit should arrive before the soldiers. Soldiers could not train properly, and were certainly unready to fight unless they had all their equipment. Backlogs in, say, key signals equipment could delay the readiness of a whole division.

The liberation of Northern Africa also brought a lot of French manpower (C,250,000 soldiers) onto the allied side, but this meant that five divisions worth of equipment was diverted to North Africa to equip the French expeditionary force rather than US troops in the UK. The French went on fight in Italy and then Southern France, becoming the cadre of a French force of C 15 Divisions by March 1945.

This is a long explanation as to why, even with a best intention, the allies would not have the forces in the ETO to launch a successful cross channel invasion in 1943.
Last edited by Sheldrake on 26 Jun 2019 17:09, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Delta Tank » 26 Jun 2019 17:07

Sheldrake,

The US Army had 89 or 90 divisions, not 100. The US Marine Corps had another 6 divisions. My argument is, yes, we should of attacked Italy to force them out of the war, but at a certain point in the campaign attacking further up the “Italian Boot” was senseless. Even if we did not do the a Italian Campaign, we still would not be able to do Operation Overlord until 1944. However, if we sent the bulk of our forces to Italy, diverting them from the build up in the UK, it would of delayed Operation Overlord.

Mike

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Jun 2019 17:30

Delta Tank wrote:
26 Jun 2019 17:07
Sheldrake,

The US Army had 89 or 90 divisions, not 100. The US Marine Corps had another 6 divisions. My argument is, yes, we should of attacked Italy to force them out of the war, but at a certain point in the campaign attacking further up the “Italian Boot” was senseless. Even if we did not do the a Italian Campaign, we still would not be able to do Operation Overlord until 1944. However, if we sent the bulk of our forces to Italy, diverting them from the build up in the UK, it would of delayed Operation Overlord.

Mike
You are correct, the 100 division "Victory Plan" ended up as C 85 Divisions and a lot of replacements, as casualties rates were higher than anticipated. The Allied force in march 1945 was still around 100 divisions with the French providing a significant number of troops.

There was no question of Italy ever becoming the major theatre in which to defeat the Germans. The only battlefield big enough was France. But Italy was a good place for a sideshow to fix the enemy.

The planners knew that the battle of Normandy would be a race between the allies and Germans to build up forces. The Germans by road and rail and the allies by sea and air. Ahh back to shipping again. The allies could land five divisions on D Day and on average a division every two-three days. (35 divisions in C 80 days). It really helped that twenty odd German formations were in Italy against the twenty allied divisions already ashore and irrelevant to the build up in France.

There were two unintended consequences of the Anzio operation as it evolved.

#1 In January 944 the first actions by Montgomery and Eisenthower were to demand shipping and aircraft to increase the Op Overlord assault from an initial three to eight divisions. Anzio was a perfect illustration of the inability of a three division assault force to seize inland objectives and defend the beachhead.

#2 Even when the Allies appeared to have screwed up and left a three division beach head ready to eliminated as a warning, the Germans found that they could not throw the beached whale into the sea. That must have encouraged the German defenders on the Atlantic Wall!

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Jun 2019 17:31

Delta Tank wrote:
26 Jun 2019 17:07
Sheldrake,

The US Army had 89 or 90 divisions, not 100. The US Marine Corps had another 6 divisions. My argument is, yes, we should of attacked Italy to force them out of the war, but at a certain point in the campaign attacking further up the “Italian Boot” was senseless. Even if we did not do the a Italian Campaign, we still would not be able to do Operation Overlord until 1944. However, if we sent the bulk of our forces to Italy, diverting them from the build up in the UK, it would of delayed Operation Overlord.

Mike
You are correct, the 100 division "Victory Plan" ended up as C 85 Divisions and a lot of replacements, as casualties rates were higher than anticipated. The Allied force in march 1945 was still around 100 divisions with the French providing a significant number of troops.

There was no question of Italy ever becoming the major theatre in which to defeat the Germans. The only battlefield big enough was France. But Italy was a good place for a sideshow to fix the enemy.

The planners knew that the battle of Normandy would be a race between the allies and Germans to build up forces. The Germans by road and rail and the allies by sea and air. Ahh back to shipping again. The allies could land five divisions on D Day and on average a division every two-three days. (35 divisions in C 80 days). It really helped that twenty odd German formations were in Italy against the twenty allied divisions already ashore and irrelevant to the build up in France.

There were two unintended consequences of the Anzio operation as it evolved.

#1 In January 944 the first actions by Montgomery and Eisenthower were to demand shipping and aircraft to increase the Op Overlord assault from an initial three to eight divisions. Anzio was a perfect illustration of the inability of a three division assault force to seize inland objectives and defend the beachhead.

#2 Even when the Allies appeared to have screwed up and left a three division beach head ready to eliminated as a warning, the Germans found that they could not throw the beached whale into the sea. That must have encouraged the German defenders on the Atlantic Wall!

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Re: Anzio : A Beached Whale or An abcess in Axis rear ?

Post by Delta Tank » 26 Jun 2019 19:59

To all,

The 90 Division Gamble.

https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_15.htm

Mike

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